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Jerusalem: Heart of Our Heart

Jerusalem: Heart of Our Heart

Jerusalem is above politics.


Nobel Prize-winning author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel today took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, in the form an open letter to President Obama, with whom Wiesel visited the Buchenwald death camp last year. Here is the text of the letter.

For Jerusalem

It was inevitable: Jerusalem once again is at the center of political debates and international storms. New and old tensions surface at a disturbing pace. Seventeen times destroyed and seventeen times rebuilt, it is still in the middle of diplomatic confrontations that could lead to armed conflict. Neither Athens nor Rome has aroused that many passions.

For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics. It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture-and not a single time in the Koran. Its presence in Jewish history is overwhelming. There is no more moving prayer in Jewish history than the one expressing our yearning to return to Jerusalem. To many theologians, it IS Jewish history, to many poets, a source of inspiration. It belongs to the Jewish people and is much more than a city, it is what binds one Jew to another in a way that remains hard to explain. When a Jew visits Jerusalem for the first time, it is not the first time; it is a homecoming.The first song I heard was my mother’s lullaby about and for Jerusalem. Its sadness and its joy are part of our collective memory.

When a Jew visits Jerusalem for the first time, it is a homecoming.

Since King David took Jerusalem as his capital, Jews have dwelled inside its walls with only two interruptions; when Roman invaders forbade them access to the city and again, when under Jordanian occupation. Jews, regardless of nationality, were refused entry into the old Jewish quarter to meditate and pray at the Wall, the last vestige of Solomon’s temple. It is important to remember: had Jordan not joined Egypt and Syria in the 1967 war against Israel, the old city of Jerusalem would still be Arab. Clearly, while Jews were ready to die for Jerusalem they would not kill for Jerusalem.

Today, for the first time in history, Jews, Christians and Muslims all may freely worship at their shrines. And, contrary to certain media reports, Jews, Christians and Muslims ARE allowed to build their homes anywhere in the city. The anguish over Jerusalem is not about real estate but about memory.

What is the solution? Pressure will not produce a solution. Is there a solution? There must be, there will be. Why tackle the most complex and sensitive problem prematurely? Why not first take steps which will allow the Israeli and Palestinian communities to find ways to live together in an atmosphere of security. Why not leave the most difficult, the most sensitive issue, for such a time?

Jerusalem must remain the world’s Jewish spiritual capital, not a symbol of anguish and bitterness, but a symbol of trust and hope. As the Hasidic master Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav said, “Everything in this world has a heart; the heart itself has its own heart.”

Jerusalem is the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.

April 24, 2010

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Visitor Comments: 18

(18) Paul solon, July 3, 2016 6:37 PM

He was a great man, with a great heart. And this from a non Jew.

(17) Barbara Holtzman, May 31, 2011 8:48 PM

This is what everyone forgets

"Today, for the first time in history, Jews, Christians and Muslims all may freely worship at their shrines." People of all colors, all nations, all faiths, all welcome in Jerusalem when the Jews govern it. When all the others who have tried, from the Romans to the British to the Jordanians - not so much.

(16) AE Constant, July 9, 2010 3:58 AM

It is very good to understant what about Jewish history.

I am very much interest to understand Israel and the history. Now I am getting the knowledge through your web. Thank you very much for the same. I wish to get more and more from you.

(15) YeHudit, May 3, 2010 1:31 PM

Our crown jewel

JerUSAlem is our crown jewel and will always be!

(14) Jewish Mama, April 30, 2010 5:23 AM

Anon #11

I was happy to see Wiesel's commitment by placing this add for the world to see. Then I saw the comment of #11. I wish you would have used your real name. And I wish you would tell us where else you write. And I wish that would let you write about our shared passion for Jerusalem and all of Israel, because you said it so beautifully. May all your hopes and prayers for the unity of Jerusalem in righteous Jewish hands be answered. In fact, Wiesel could also have said that the very word Jerusalem is made up of two Hebrew words: and sha.le.m: wholeness revealed, or teaching of peace--it can be translated in other similar ways. It was our ancestors that named it and the name has held for millennium.

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